SEEKING THROUGH THE EYE OF LOVE

Down by a corner of the gas station, he sat on his side, waiting.

Waiting for the mother whose face he would never recognize, waiting for the touch of love he had never come to feel.

George Braille, second in his name, is six weeks old and is blind. We would never know whether he was born that way, or whether a bacterial infection, which so commonly attacks street cats in this town, damaged them beyond repair, or whether the darkness that befell him was a misfortune out of foul play.

What we knew is that he would never have survived too long out in the open, at the leg of that gas pump.

What he knew is that he had the touch of a foreign cat; though it must be not the smell he knows.

What he knew is that he had the bosom of a loving mother, though it was not the warmth he knows.

But if a kitten had a wish, he would want to wish his own mother. If a kitten had a way, he would cry day and night, calling and calling, waiting and waiting. He would stop and eat, he would fall asleep, he would try his best to follow too many different steps going all directions at the same time; and if one stops right before him, he would ask for the life he should have.

He would learn, eventually, that he will never have the life he should have. He would accept that his world is totally different, and it’s not just because it’s all dark. He would grow along many that have similar smell and one day, brave enough to mingle.

He would learn, eventually, that instead of a pinch on his neck, he has cradle and kisses.

He already learned that if he sit by our foot long enough, we’d give him a lift and carry him. He learned that although he loves fish, chicken can be nice at times. He learned that a fresh water is always ready, just a few steps to the north east.

He already learned which arms gives him a lift and carry him on her shoulder, and which other hands who hold him, carried him to a place called “studio” and let him draped over her thigh as the constant clacking sound would drift him to sleep.

He will learn, eventually, that love can come in many different vibes; and as long as he wants to see through it, his life will never feel dark.

~ Josie

paypal.me/whiskerssyndicate

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SEE NOTHING, HEAR NOTHING, SAY NOTHING

We had hailstorm and wind that sent our neighbor’s roof’s tiles flying two days ago. We did our best, but some part of the cattery turned into a waterfall regardless.

Among all the chaos, one cat curled sleeping in peace inside an upside down baby chair. See nothing, hear nothing, say nothing.

Either she is brave, or ignorant; either she is too deep into her rest, or has enormous faith, we probably would never know the answer.

Still it sent me into the memories of the night we decided to pick her up last month. She had both her eyes shut by infection, and was trying to cross through a group of ignorant merry making men with a pair of ears that must be deafened by their sheer loudness, so loud no one could have heard her even if she screamed her lungs out. See nothing, hear nothing, say nothing.

I jumped down as soon as the motorcycle stopped and walked straight into the middle of the circle. See nothing, hear nothing, say nothing. I stopped right above her, picked her up, turned my cold shoulder and walked away. See nothing, hear nothing, say nothing. I want nothing to do with that bunch of ignorant idiots who knows none but back talk and big talk.

She saw nothing even after we cleaned her eyes. She heard nothing, maybe, she said nothing but ran toward the crowd of cats eating their dinner, as soon as she smelled the fragrant mix of fish and chicken freshly boiled.

We named her Odilia, after our parish church where we found her. The young saint was born into a prominent legacy; but she was blind and therefore cast away to live with a peasant, as a peasant. She joined a monastery where her vision was restored miraculously. The rest of her story was filled with the legend of strength and perseverance that springs from faith.

Not sure about our Odilia though. We gave her medicine despite the advanced state of her virus infection; the stage where vets and other pet parents had nothing left but hope and prayers. We made her swallowed our liquid food, we sent her to sleep on the heating pad every evening to the next dawn. We see nothing, we hear nothing, we say nothing.

We just keep on trying.

One day I opened the door to the cattery and she followed me. She picked a spot she always returned to, and see nothing but that spot, hear nothing (of our reasons and pleas) but that spot, say nothing but her demand to go to that spot.

And the more we see her the clearer her eye, though only one ever see the world again. The more we hear her the louder her meows, though the more we say her name, we only found her by our feet.

By the end of that hailstorm, about four hours later, started our lengthy night and day restoring our shelter.

Among all the hectic overhaul, I saw Odilia woke up from her sleep, arched her back, and look at us, with that one eye left that she has, full of wonder. She saw nothing, heard nothing, said nothing. How the earth went round during my sleep?

I only shake my head and smile. It was a long story; and not a fun one, so ignorance is a bliss.

~ Josie

paypal.me/whiskerssyndicate

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JOURNEY OF A DECADE

After ten years, I finally made the journey home.
Back to where I was raised, back to where I grew up, back to where I leartn about things I believe in, things I want to be, and things I want to change in my world.

My youngest brother has finally found someone to share the remaining of his life with, and I will be flying to my hometown for his engagement.

It will be from the westernmost end of the island, to the easternmost end; and aside from an hour flight, I will be joining the rest of the family for a six hours ride to where his love of a lifetime would be.

I flew out of Bandung on Saturday at dusk, landed in Surabaya an hour later, and ride six hours straight to the town of Banyuwangi, arriving at two a.m Sunday morning. Next will be getting ready for the event at eleven, finish at three in the afternoon, flew out to Jakarta at four for one and a half hour, and ride another six hours back to Bandung.

It was just as crazy in preparation if not more, with babies sick, vet visit almost everyday, medicines to buy, life to manage, and stocking enough for the shelter to survive during my absence.

By the time I step back into my house, I have nothing left in me but a shipwreck of nerves and bones ready to scatter.

But my gruelling journey was nothing compared to his.

The Friday before my departure I picked him up on my way to work. He was motionless inside a large garbage bag, discarded on a joint of a back alley, literally a road less traveled.

We thought he was dead – hence discarded – but we turned back anyway, just to be sure.

He did nothing when I touch him, but I can see that he was trying to lift his head, though it seeemed at that time, even that was too much to do. His body was stiffened and crusted so badly, it must be very painful for him even to breathe. His face was like a shipwreck full of barnacles, and he cannot open his eyes even though I can bet he would eagerly do so. One of his legs are swollen.

I lifted him with the garbage bag and we rode him back home, locking him up inside the largest crate we can have, so he won’t spread his disease to others.

Touching him, I can only imagine the torture he had to endure as his mange slowly devoured him. I can only feel how his desperation must have grown alongside the terror as he helplessly fought all his best.

I can only imagine the dimming hope when he finally succumbed to his pain.

That Sunday midnight I saw him curled among other cats in the cattery, deep in his sleep. I can see that the medicine I gave him just few minutes before I went away start its heavy work. I can see that he ate the food we prepared just for him, I can see that he started to feel better, but it will be a while before the whole village of mange that eat him alive will be gone.

Then, he can start to be a cat again.

For me, the long journey was worth all the trouble. Meeting my family again, getting to know my nieces, who only knew by word that they have an aunty who lives far away, reconnecting the bonds that start to feel like distant memories, and together back as one as we celebrate the whole new world that my brother embarked into.

For him, I hope the long journey was worth all the patience. Getting to eat decent food and proper treatment that he never knew existed, reconnecting with the world he deserves to live in, experience the kindness that is his birth right, and embrace life as he embarks into the freedom he has long been denied.

May he be a cat again.

~ Josie

paypal.me/whiskerssyndicate

Hi Whiskers’ Syndicate, here is your magic!

Remember the yellow baby that we lost, and another one dumped into our rubbish bin the next day?

Remember a poorly mother cat who we picked up from the street, thinking she had FIP, but turned out to be delivering six babies?

Our baby adapted fairly well into his new family. He has a swollen nose, that we will check with the vet tomorrow, when funds become available (we only have USD 20 in our bank right now); but meanwhile he is eating well, and is playing with others.

When he saw little kittens ran to Mama Gaia, he first sat next to them nursing, but then carefully approach and started snuggling. Although she had started to wean her six kittens, Mama Gaia gladly accept him as baby number seven, and start caring for him as her own.

For a baby who lost everything at the early beginning of his life, being accepted into the bosom of a mother is an insurmountable blessing. Though only twenty seconds, you can see feel the joy in every suckle, and gladness in every knead.

Your donations and continuous support have given these two cats a chance for new life and new strength to face the challenges that will come next. With this video I am extending my utmost gratitude to all of you for allowing this little miracle to happen.

Here at Whiskers’ Syndicate, we do not live by government’s support, nor have the endorsements of celebrities with large amount of financial contributions. Here at Whiskers’ Syndicate, the average donation is USD 10 made by ordinary people like you and me. Yet, these numerous USD 10 have given many lives a new lease of life, and various glorious stories. These USD 10 that you all put together make each and every difference we all want to see in this world.

I am looking forward to continue this quest with each and everyone of you. I am looking forward to the next USD 10 that builds a new miracle.

And then, it will be my absolute pleasure to share all the miracles with you.

~ Josie
paypal.me/whiskerssyndicate

ODE TO GIA

Twice rescued, twice returned to the street. Third time is the charm.

Since joining us near the end of January, Gia has been spending peaceful days here at Whiskers’ Syndicate and even make new friends. Our kittens love her very much and one of our other rescues, Stardust, become a close friend in no time. 

We are saddened that despite our best effort, Gia’s cancer has advanced to her eye. She is now often in pain because of this. She also has difficulties breathing and eating because she no longer has sufficient muscles and tissue to move her jaw. There is no longer flesh in her nose, we can only see her bones, white and dry. In these last days, we had to feed her liquid food with a syringe and help her drink with a baby bottle.

While we hoped that Gia would stay with us for a long time, it will be cruel to keep Gia alive and let her suffer such pain, so we have been consulting our vet about what is best to do and when.

For a short, while Gia will be given painkillers, as we prepare ourselves; but in one or two days we will have to let her go.

Though only for a few months, Gia have been a blessing in our shelter, a starlight of strength and perseverance. She is what a fighter should be. Her motivation and will of life is indomitable. Gia is an inspiration for us to do better and better regardless of the surmounting challenge, pain and limitation.

After Gia’s passing we will bring her spirit to help more cats in need and spread kindness to those who has yet find humanity. Gia will be the fire that burns our dampened heart and blast it anew.

In this opportunity also, I would like to extend my gratitude for our little friend Ammar, who in his young age have known so much compassion. Though he goes to school in another place, he took time and effort to find aid for a sickly stray cat who can be so easily forgotten by most, if not all. I would like to thank his mother, who made the journey every day with food and water before Gia came to join us. Without them both, Gia wouldn’t live long enough to find her final sanctuary.

My utmost gratitude is to you all: The Whiskers’ Syndicate. Your support, financial or otherwise, has given Gia the chance she has been waiting for the rest of her life: the chance to be part of a family, the chance to be a mother (to many step kittens), the chance to sleep on a warm fluffy blanket, the chance to play freely and live fully, the chance to be protected from the elements, the chance to be cradled, the chance to purr wholeheartedly.

The chance to love, the chance to be loved.

In Gia’s memory we will continue to tread this road less traveled and offer our hand to those who otherwise had none.

~ Josie
paypal.me/whiskerssyndicate

Note:
We are lucky to capture a brief video of Gia grooming herself. This one is the third time we found her grooming. For a sick cat, grooming is an evidence that the suffering cat is recovering. https://www.facebook.com/wearethewhiskerssyndicate/videos/327697277882849/?t=0

Gia’s last picture is here:
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and this is is the link to her original story

CHANCE FOR TWO

I know that old man. He is a homeless person who go back and forth around the bus shelter where I start my day and end the night. He lives by collecting boxes and junk, and sell them by the kilo.

Most of the time, when I stop on that shelter with the last bus, he is already sleeping, curling himself like a shrimp and slipping both his palms between his thighs for a little bit more warmth.

I would slip some bank notes into the small pocket he has on his dirty, worn out shirt and move on.

Times and again when he is not so lucky, he will still be awake, crouching in the corner with his empty sack, eyes forlorn to the sky.

I would smile as I pass, slip some bank notes into his hand, and move on. It’s not much, but enough for a basic meal that will keep him alive for the next luck that he might seize when the new day comes.

Last March 7th on my way home from the market, I saw him early. He was folding many piles of boxes and sorting junk.

I was happy for him, but I was not happy to see a tiny clump of filthy cat baby on the box right next to him.

I know he is homeless, but I don’t know whether he has mental illness or not. He never speaks to me. He just looks at me when he got my bank notes. I had never seen him with cats, nor kitten before.

Trying to think positively, I thought, someone must have dumped that bottle baby in the box, he picked it up, and bring the baby with him. I saw that happened before with a man who lost everything and lived on the road with his baby and a small daughter near a military compound; his wife long abandoned him, choosing what must be a better life. Faith and loyalty will not feed a tummy.

I texted Sheilla to ask her company. I wanted to be sure. If the worse is true, I want to ask kindly for him to give the kitten to me. That baby is less than four weeks old.

But March 7th is a public holiday and the constipated roads of Bandung had frozen into hell. It’s nearly one and a half hour until she finally reached home.

That man was not there anymore, but we had to be sure.

I saw that kitten writhing and crying on a pile of rotting garbage in a locked room that is supposed to be a small ticket booth for the bus.

We tried for a while prying the booth door open, but it’s impossible. Sheilla thrusted herself into the locket but the baby was too far down.

I ran to the nearby security booth in the SOHO complex just behind the shelter and borrowed a dust pan with long handle.

He was dirty, he was dehydrated, he was hypothermic, he was starving, he was in excruciating pain, and as soon as we lay him down on what we choose to be his baby blanket, he was gone.

I was so angry I burst out into tears and for the next few hours, lost my speech.

How would someone torn that baby apart from his mother, alone, and dump him away? How would someone deliberately throw him into a locked booth, where he would die slow and painful without food, water and chance for salvation?

How can human heart rot so deep, it’s worse than even a devil?

“We tried” Sheilla said.

I folded the blanket over my baby, gone much too soon, and ask for his mercy.

“I am sorry I am late, I am really, really sorry; but I hear you. I see you, I care for you. When you meet your creator, ask Him to show you my face. Not all humans are bad. I love you”

March 8th somewhere in the middle of a business, Sheilla texted me.

“Someone dumped a yellow baby into our garbage bin”

And she sent me photo.

And my heart stopped beating.

Had he lived, my baby will look just like this one.

He was filthy, he was covered in motor oil, he was dehydrated, he was hypothermic, he was starving.

I always believe that chance only come once in a lifetime. If there is such thing as being given second chance, God himself has to show me.

He just did.

“Well then, let’s show death what we’re made of” I replied.
Death can steal as much as he can from me, I will save twice as much.

That night when I went to the colony, I saw that man sleeping in his bus shelter.

Had we not pick the baby, he would have been decaying in there, and the man can sleep so soundly, as if nothing rots just one step away.

On my way back home, I saw his face. The days before, I see a human.

That night, I see nothing. Humanity had died, except my own.

So I turn my face away, and move on.

~ Josie

paypal.me/whiskerssyndicate